New Kobo Wireless E-Reader For $139

 Posted by at 6:25 PM  Tagged with:
Sep 292010

The new Kobo E-Reader adds wireless connectivity, faster page turns, a better screen, and a dictionary. It sells for $139

Kobo announced today that it has updated its Kobo E-Reader device (should we call it the Kobo 2?) to add Wi-Fi wireless connectivity, a faster processor (which enables faster page turns), a better e-Ink screen, and a built-in dictionary (finally!). It is available from Kobo for pre-order now for $139.

Kobo says the other features / improvements include:

  • Wi-Fi wireless connectivity
  • A faster processor that enables “2.5x faster” page turns (an impressive claim; the original Kobo was chastised for slow page turns)
  • A “new, sharper, 16-greyscale, 6” e-Ink screen,” though not the higher-contrast e-Ink Pearl screen being used in the new Kindle 3
  • A built-in dictionary to look up word definitions — a must-have feature notably missing from Kobo’s original offering
  • 1 GB of built-in memory, with an SD card slot for additional storage
  • Longer battery life

For more info, please see my post about the original Kobo E-Reader. As before, the Kobo 2 is lightweight, at just 7.8 ounces, and has relatively simple controls. On the minus side, it is missing some of the advanced features of the Kindle 3 or Nook — including text-to-speech, 3G wireless connectivity, or a keyboard/keypad for note-taking.

The Kobo reads e-books in ePub format and is compatible with free library e-books, which is a big plus. Kobo is affiliated with Borders, and this new e-reader will be sold in Borders stores. Readers can buy compatible e-books from the Borders or Kobo online stores, and can read e-books not only on the Kobo, but on a variety of reading apps for computers and Apple iOS devices. (UPDATE: The Kobo e-readers still work fine even after the Borders bankruptcy, and Kobo is not affected.)

When the Kindle 2 and Nook were $259, the Kobo came in as an appealing alternative that lacked some features, but was small and light and easy to use and cost only $149. At that price, it made a reasonable entry-level model that might appeal to some readers, even though some reviews chastised it for very slow page turns and its missing features. Now, the page turns appear to be much faster, and the addition of Wi-Fi and a built-in dictionary go a long way to leveling the feature playing field. Unfortunately for Kobo, Amazon drastically improved the Kindle 3, made it smaller and lighter, and slashed the price of the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi to just $139, so Kobo’s pricing advantage is gone. For the same price, I can’t see getting the Kobo 2 over the Kindle 3, considering the Kindle’s extra features and better e-book store and support from Amazon.

On the other hand, readers who are loyal to Borders, or who want to read library e-books can consider the Kobo 2 against the new Sony E-Readers, and the Kobo compares fairly well against the Sonys, considering the Kobo 2’s lower price and Wi-Fi connectivity.

UPDATE: Read my hands-on Kobo Wireless review here.

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Aug 312010

Staples announced today that they will be carrying the new Kindle 3 e-readers in their retail stores “this fall.” They will carry the $139 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, the $189 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi + 3G, and “in late fall,” the larger $379 Kindle DX 2. This should offer more people the opportunity to see in person how easy on the eyes and paper-like e-Ink displays really are. Until then, you can still see the older Kindle 2 models at Target, or see the Nook at Barnes & Noble or Best Buy.

In other news, on the heels of the introduction of the lower-price Kindle 3 Wi-Fi for just $139, Kobo has wisely discounted its own Kobo E-Reader (which trails the Kindle and Nook in speed and features) to $129 to compete. While I like the Kobo’s light weight and focus on reading, I still think the new K3 is a better value. But the lower price is a step in the right direction — you can go check out a Kobo at a Borders store near you.

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Win A Kobo E-Reader

 Posted by at 10:58 PM  Tagged with: , , ,
May 042010

Win Me!

Just a quick note to point out that Kobo is running a contest (ending May 6) to win a free Kobo E-Reader. To enter, just buy an e-book (each purchase is one entry) — there will be 5 winners this week.

Until you win your e-reader, you can read Kobo books on a Mac, PC, or various smartphones (software downloads here).

If you’re looking for a cheap way to enter, Right Ascension and Declination are discounted 20%, down to just 79 cents each on the Kobo website. 😉

In other news, the Kobo eReader is currently available for pre-orders from Borders for $149.99, shipping June 17. It should start arriving in Borders bookstores in August as part of an “Area-E” section in the stores. Borders is also readying its online e-book store for June.

More info about the Kobo eReader in an earlier post here.

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Kobo E-Reader For $149

 Posted by at 6:41 PM  Tagged with: , , ,
Apr 102010

Just a brief post, as I thought it was important to highlight the new Kobo eReader. For those of you looking to make the jump to e-books, this device looks like it will make an excellent starting point. There is a good review over on Electronista, but the summary is that the Kobo eReader does a fine job at reading books, has a nice e-Ink screen and great battery life, and is a good value at just $149. The fact that it uses a simple interface and doesn’t have wireless or other features can actually be a good thing — as it makes it easier to simply focus on one thing: reading books.

Another point to note: the eReader comes with 100 free e-books pre-loaded onto the device. While those titles are all public domain, and thus freely available elsewhere, I think it’s a great idea by Kobo: it makes the eReader seem like a better deal (that’s like paying $1.49 per book and getting the eReader for free), and also makes it blindingly simple for a buyer to start reading right away.

A few tech specs:

  • 6″ e-Ink screen (easy on the eyes, great in sunlight, 2-week battery life)
  • 1 GB internal storage (holds about 1,000 e-books)
  • USB connection (connect it to your computer and drag & drop files onto it)
  • Only currently reads ePub and PDF formats
  • Bluetooth built in

While you can get a cheaper $99 Delstar OpenBook or a more expensive $259 Kindle 2 (both of which I discuss here), the Delstar uses an LCD screen, not the easy-on-the-eyes e-Ink screen that most e-readers use. The Kindle is a better e-reader, has wireless access, a built-in dictionary, and uses Amazon, but it does cost over $100 more.

It’s good to see more and more devices emerging at lower and lower price points. The Kobo will be sold at Borders stores and can be filled with e-books from Borders’ upcoming e-book store (see Update 2, below).

One other quick point: there are rumors that the Kindle 2 will soon be available at Target and Best Buy retail stores and the Nook will be available through Best Buy (in addition to Barnes & Noble). I think it’s a great idea, since these devices have a “wow” factor and most people who try them out will be impressed. While Amazon allows a 30-day trial period (with no-questions-asked returns) on the K2, it’s still much easier to play with one at Target than order one from Amazon and maybe return it.

UPDATE: Kindle at Target confirmed, on Apr 25.

UPDATE 2: The Kobo eReader is available for pre-order from Borders, shipping June 17. It should also be arriving in Borders stores in August. Borders is planning an online e-book store for June as well.

UPDATE 3: Kobo reduced the price of its e-reader to just $129, but compared to the $139 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, I don’t think the small price advantage justifies passing up the Kindle 3’s more impressive specs and features.